EditorialDousing Fresh Violence in South-East

Dousing Fresh Violence in South-East

June 2, (THEWILL)- The recent killings of five soldiers and six civilians in Abia State by unknown gunmen and terrorists claiming to be enforcing a ”Stay at Home” order to honour people  who lost their lives in the Nigerian civil war  is worrisome and highly condemnable.

Storming the OP UDOKA security unit at a military checkpoint at Obikabia Junction in Obingwa Local Government Area of the state in three Sport Utility Vehicles, the hoodlums not only shot to death the gallant soldiers on lawful duties but also set their patrol vehicles on fire after making away with their weapons.

Now, the Nigerian Army has vowed to deal ”ruthlessly” and come down real hard on the perpetrators of the dastardly act in retaliation of the killings of the soldiers identified as Sergeant Charles Ugochukwu (94NA/38/1467), Sergeant Bala Abraham (03NA/53/1028), Corporal Gideon Egwe(10NA/65/7085), Corporal Ikpeama Ikechukwu (13NA/70/5483) and Corporal Augustine Emmanuel (13NA/70/6663).

According to the Nigerian Army, the five soldiers and the six civilians caught  in the crossfire  were mowed down by unknown gunmen suspected to be members of the Independent Peoples of Biafra, IPoB, a pro-Biafra separatist group and its armed wing, the Eastern Security Network, ESN.

Sadly, no feeling of remorse nor any claim of responsibility has officially come from IPOB and its officials who called for the Stay-at-Home order though the pan-Igbo social-cultural group, Ohanaeze, has condemned the act. Other leaders from the region have also condemned the killing, even as the Abia State governor,  Alex Otti, has placed a N25 million bounty on the perpetrators of the evil act.

Nigerian Army spokesperson, Major-General Edward Buba, who disclosed the retaliatory measures, did not mince words in passing his message, saying,  “It is absolutely imperative that the military retaliate against this dastardly act against troops,” adding ”The military will be fierce in its response. We will bring overwhelming military pressure on the group to ensure their total defeat.”

Discerning Nigerians really know what this threat means for peace and security in the South East going by the antecedents of similar exercise in other areas. Only recently, the sleepy village of Okuama in Delta State was ‘sacked’ following the killing of 13 officers and soldiers on peace mission in an ambush by the youth of the village.

Stoking the fire of fresh violence in the South-East  at this point in time by these hoodlums is really not the best way to honour their fallen heroes and surely not a good development for a troubled region that is just returning to normalcy after years of violent clashes between the military and the so-called unknown gunmen .

It is unfortunate that these unknown gunmen have terrorised the people of the South-East, killing and maiming innocent residents and targeting government facilities for many years. Now, that relative peace is gradually returning and business activities resuming after many years of driving fear into the minds of the people, the dare-devils have struck again.

We therefore call on the Nigerian Army to re-consider its threat of a total clampdown on the region, while fishing out the perpetrators as Nigerians know that where two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. The ordinary residents of the South-East must not be made to suffer for the sins of a few rascals masquerading under the guise of unknown gunmen.

We are also happy that leaders of the South East are already condemning the action of the gunmen as we pray for total peace to return to the region that has witnessed a lot of violence in the recent past.


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